A few weeks ago my life took an unexpected turn: I came upon “Nintendo Quest”. I then reviewed it. One might think that was the end of that, as it usually is. But no. I then started listening to GamerCast, the gaming podcast created by the people behind “Nintendo Quest”. Then, I interviewed Jay Bartlett, the star of “Nintendo Quest”. It seemed like my fever had reached its peak. But, alas, there’s more. “Nintendo Quest: Power Tour” is an 8-episode docu-series that follows the “Nintendo Quest” team as they screen the film in various cities. Filmmaker Rob McCallum was kind enough to provide a copy for review, and below are my thoughts on the follow-up to one of my favorite gaming documentaries.
When I interviewed Jay about “Nintendo Quest” and “Power Tour”, he said that they are very different beasts. After watching both, I have to agree: the former has a sense of urgency and a deep emotional core, while the latter is a celebration of achievements and of the gaming community in general.
Rob McCallum’s directorial chops are kicked up a notch in “Power Tour”, bringing fantastic motion graphics into play and upping the bar for the direction of photography in general: angles are fantastic, color correction looks gorgeous and rich. The audio remains as great as it was in the original film, and the music is as much of a protagonist as Rob, Jay and the film.
The docu-series is divided in 8 episodes, with each episode focusing on a single city screening, and the community around that city in particular. It’s really great to see how gamers came out in droves to support “Nintendo Quest”, as I feel it’s a well-earned accolade for a fantastic piece of cinema. The highlight for each episode, though, at least for me, was to see the members of the community and how they interacted with each other and with games: huge collections, tremendous passion for certain brands or characters (The SEGA guy was my favorite, as I’m a Mega Drive kid myself), and small, independent gaming stores that cater to even the weirdest, most obscure niches in this wonderful hobby (I’m looking at you, person who collects Atari Jaguar stuff).
There are a couple of things that I believe could have been improved, though.
The first is the sense of urgency that’s lost from the original film. Of course, we wouldn’t have the original quest element from the previous film, and Jay and Rob (who are now co-protagonists) did a valiant effort of filling that void by having a friendly wager about collecting 20 games each, across different systems. While it’s awesome to see this expansion and the acknowledgement that the quest was a big part of “Nintendo Quest” (go figure!), and it has personal highlights for me (Shantae on GBC?!? Xenoblade!? Oh, my!), there’s no sense of urgency, no jeopardy. This makes the episodes a much more laid back experience, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I do miss the adrenaline of “is he going to get that game?”.
The other issue that I take with the episodes, and the one that honestly felt more “in the way” of the experience, was the sponsorship and advertisement content. Each episode is about 24 minutes long, out of which a good 5 minutes (a guesstimate) is dedicated to ads. I completely understand the need to cover costs (I know I had that issue when making my own film), but I feel like it could have been handled better so that it did not interfere with the viewing experience that much.
Author’s Edit: I reached out to Rob McCallum with these concerns, and I’m happy to inform that “Nintendo Quest: Power Tour” has been aired on TV in New Zealand and the USA, and will soon be aired in Canada, with none of the ads except the minor ones at the beginning. This will make the experience for those watching on TV quite enjoyable!
Other than that, I loved “Power Tour”. I feel like it’s a fantastic spiritual successor to the first film, and it does things the original didn’t do: improved presentation, and thanks to the longer running time, a lot more in-depth looks at members of the community.
Rob McCallum has now become one of my favorite content creators within the geek world (and by extension, Jay Bartlett and Glenn Stanway have, too). I must admit to having purchased (with my own money!) his film “Missing Mom”, a much more serious and personal affair that touched me on a deep, core level. He’s got a couple of gems coming down the pipeline that I’m excited about: “Box Art”, a documentary about… well, gaming box art (which sounds AMAZING) and “The Power of Grayskyll”, a documentary about He-Man.
And of course, I finally got the answer to “What’s next after Nintendo Quest”? The sequel will be…. WATCH THE POWER TOUR TO KNOW!
You can find more about Rob’s films by visiting his website: http://robmccallumfilms.com/